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‘Archer’ Review: “Once Bitten”

Archer Once Bitten Review
FX

Archer’ season 4 gets twice shy with its sixth episode of the year “Once Bitten,” as Sterling gets bitten by a snake while out on a mission, sending him through a number of visions as Cyril and Ray race through the desert for help.

Last week’s ‘Archer’ episode “Viscous Coupling” saw Sterling attempting to manipulate Katya (Ona Grauer) and the space-stuck Barry against one another, while delaying the latter’s imminent return to Earth , so how does “Once Bitten” shake out?  Is ‘Archer’ season 4 drawing out its most classic season yet?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Archer’ season 4 episode 6, “Once Bitten!”

Out in the desert of Turkmenistan, Ray and Cyril try desperately to dig their jeep out of a sand dune, while Archer sits idly by and reminisces about ‘Rat Patrol.’ Having forgotten toilet paper, Archer borrows the map to go do his business, but Cyril and Ray talk him into using a handful of the money brought from the mission instead. Cyril warns Archer to beware of Caspian cobras while doing his business, and wouldn’t you know what bites him right on his…special…intermediate…area?

Meanwhile back at ISIS, Lana rants about her objections to the mission, while Malory insists the racist and sexist nature of the country would have made her unwelcome, and unhelpful on a mission to blow up a Russian oil pipeline. Denouncing a country whose dictator made the words for “bread” and “Friday” the same as his dog’s name, Malory brushes off Lana’s continued indignation.

Archer begs Ray and Cyril to suck out the poison, though Cyril assures him it wouldn’t do any good. In spite of Cyril’s warnings, Archer slurps back from his flask, growing woozier and woozier. Having been reminded of his bionic legs, Ray attempts to lift the jeep out of the dune, but throws his back out in the effort.

Back at ISIS, Malory pulls Krieger away from staging a rat wedding to man the communications equipment for the mission, while assuring Lana nothing has gone wrong. Meanwhile, Archer and Cyril refused to call for an extraction, as Archer begins hallucinating his teammates as talking gators, and promptly passes out.

Archer comes to in a dreamlike “weigh station” between Heaven and Hell, where English actor James Mason (Fred Tatasciore) shows him visions of his life to point out “the real Archer.” First showing him how at age 18 his lacrosse scholarship to Johns Hopkins was taken away after a crazed widow seduced and shot him, Archer denounces that the figure has any clear message.

While Lana continues fuming about the mission, Cheryl brutally cuts her down by reminding her the only thing in her life she loves is the job, and that she will right up until Malory finally dies and leaves Lana in charge. Back in the desert, Cyril speedily drives toward help, Archer still delirious, before the jeep accidentally runs into a camel, and a number of Turkmenistan natives with guns confront the trio

While Cyril and Ray attempt to communicate with the men, finding that the word for “bread,” “Friday” and their leader’s dog are the same as “snake,” Archer finds himself on a vision of his 6th birthday. With his mother overseas, and Woodhouse strung out on heroin, a mysterious man arrived to give Archer a stuffed alligator, identifying himself as the boy’s real father. Meanwhile, Ray draws a snake for the Turkmenistan man, and agrees to give them a portion of the mission money in exchange for medicine.

Just as Sterling realizes who his real father is, he jerks back to life in the real world with a needle in his chest, aggravatingly forgetting his father’s true identity in mere moments. Womp wom.

As we said last week, ‘Archer’ can prove a difficult series to look at from serialized standpoint given how often plot threads are kept in the wings over independent missions. The question of Archer’s father may not ever be resolved within the series itself, making “Once Bitten” an uncertain portent of the eventual reveal, and somewhat frustrating as a result. It doesn’t seem as if his time with “cut-rate James Mason” leads to any kind of lasting epiphany for Archer, or that the story back at ISIS has any impact on the Turkmenistan plot, so all-in-all “Once Bitten” definitely has us feeling a bit shy about the season overall, even with a few clever callbacks here and there.

What say you? Did you get your fill of spy-spoofing ‘Archer’ action?  What was your favorite gag from “Once Bitten?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Archer’ episode recap of “Live and Let Dine” on FX!

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